Blizzard has hit thousands of Overwatch players from South Korea with bans and restrictions after they were caught cheating in the enormously popular online shooter. In a statement Blizzard said it will "prepare countermeasures" for third-party cheat programmes.

The mass-ban was announced by Blizzard on Overwatch's Korean forum (via PC Gamer), where the developer said, according to Google Translate: "Creating and delivering a pleasant game environment for the majority of good players is of paramount importance to us

"We are committed to taking all the steps we can take to create, distribute and use our programmes. We are also aware of the fact that our programmes are circulated through various communities, and we will prepare countermeasures."

A total of 22,865 players were banned in the move.

As a report from Kotaku explains, however, the ban is likely to only have a limited effect in Korea as the risk of cheating is mitigated when people play in popular gaming cafés which demand only a small hourly fee from patrons.

These cafés, of which there are more than 25,000 in the country, have deals in place with Blizzard and other publishers that allow their players to play without the need to create accounts of pay subscription fees.

Cheating is riskier when a ban will leave a cheat with a useless copy of the game that they brought themselves. At these cafés, they can simply start afresh with a new account.

As Twitch-streamer Thomas Lytwynchuk, who is also a regular at these cafés, told Kotaku: "If you had to pay $40 (£32) for a copy of Overwatch every time you hacked and got banned, like in the West, nobody would do it."

In Korea, Overwatch is the second most popular game at these cafés, called "PC bangs", behind only League of Legends.

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